University professor Hazel Barrett, whose grandmother supported the suffragette movement, said people of all classes got involved, adding: “Just look at them, ordinary women”.
Sheree Davey, who came with her young son to see the display, said: “It’s incredible. It inspires you to learn a bit more.
“You know the basics but there’s so much more to it.”
Victoria Taylor, a tourist visiting from Australia, said: “It’s a great way to engage people. It’s not confronting but it’s very prominent.”
But this has not always been the case. In the past, the King or Queen had huge powers and there was very little that ordinary people could do to have a say in how they were governed.
In the early 1800s, there were still very few people who could vote – and the ones that could were all men. Women didn’t have a say at all.
I can’t be the only person in the world to have discovered as I grew up that life was a bit more complicated than that, and opportunity for women wasn’t really going to be defined by Kylie Minogue’s example of switching careers when she fancied it. Personal choices were a lot more complex. And yes, reality crept in – women were, and are, treated differently in so many parts of life. Without question, that decades-long struggle finds its own echoes today.
Margaret Bondfield was one of very few working class women who rose to the top of the suffrage movement.
Born in Chard, Somerset, in 1873, the second youngest of eleven children, she became an apprentice at a drapers in Brighton aged 14.
There she saw how the daily grind wore down the women workers and affected their self-respect. She observed they were left with little time or energy to pursue interests away from work, with many girls seeming intent on getting married as early as possible in order to escape the drudgery.
Ms Bondfield left Brighton and went to live with her brother in London – working, again, in a shop. She became an active trade unionist and was shocked by the working culture of long hours, low wages, poor diet and requirement to “live in” in often dismal dormitories.
“It’s not possible to imagine women winning the vote without the suffragettes,” says Ms Connelly,
“The militant organising, particularly of working class women, pointed to the possibility of a movement that would grow and could potentially become an enormous mass movement.”
Of course, there are the opponents with laws-are-laws arguments; “Instinctively I can see where that campaign is coming from so I will take a look and see if there is a proposal that I can take more seriously,” home secretary Amber Rudd told Good Morning Britain. “But in terms of pardoning for arson, for violence like that … that is a little trickier.”
But there are other objections, too. Before the announcement, historian Fern Riddell—who’s got an intriguing book out in April about the radical activist Kitty Marion—wrote a piece for the Guardian about how the women’s suffrage movement in Britain encompassed both peaceful protests and more controversial direct action